Keep it small.
Take it slow.
Make it beautiful.

This retreat weekend will focus on strengthening your craft, building relationships with other artists, and providing space for spiritual growth. 


We keep workshops small, giving you intensive sessions with your instructor. Walk away with fresh perspectives, life-giving relationships and new work. 

All-inclusive workshop options cost $650.
Our open retreat option costs just $525. 



Stephen T Berg

Poetry is a process of discovering what you have to say, which is almost always, not what you thought you’d say. Which is one reason poetry is so exciting: it can alter the way you, and your readers, view this bright, bleeding, buzzing world; and so become a conduit to a kind of conversion.

Poets are rag-pickers, scavengers, foragers of wonder and bewilderment, bliss and suffering, mystery and mundanity. Whether it’s a past experience, a present conversation, a chance encounter, a public event, a political incident, a walk along the river, a discovery in a gallery, or whatever one finds in the “rag and bone shop of the heart”, all is poetic fodder.

A poem, if it is to be poem, “begins as a lump in your throat…” and then finds its own way. That sprawling scrawl of a first draft contains the “lump”, or to shift the metaphor, the “nugget”, made of images and sounds. Then comes the excavating. It’s here we’ll be spending the bulk of our time. 

During the workshop we’ll look at the tools of poetic composition. We'll cover key poetic terms and devices, and consider various types and forms of poetry as they relate to content. For inspiration and possibly guidance, we’ll look at a handful of modern and contemporary poets. And of course, most importantly, you’ll get a chance to try your own hand at writing a new poem. Throughout, you’ll have the opportunity to workshop the various drafts of your poem and get feedback on your work. 

I believe that every poem, be it witty, wise or weighty, is a kind of pilgrimage, a journey to a vital space, a path to a sacred place.

Stephen T Berg describes himself as a “disappointed hippy, approximate monk, writer and poet”. He recently moved to Victoria after retiring from his longstanding position as Development Officer at Edmonton’s Hope Mission. His prose and poetry have seen life in staged performances and have appeared in such publications as Orion, Earthshine, Geez, Prairie Messenger, oratorealis, and Vancouver’s Westender. His first chapbook, There are no small moments, was published by The Rasp and The Wine (2014). He is a recent graduate of The Writer’s Studio at Simon Fraser University, where he studied poetry and lyric prose (2016/17). He has dedicated his life to faith and helping others, and strives continually to inhabit the gospel of peace, light and love.

Read Stephen's work at



Jennifer Berkenbosch

As an artist pours her soul onto canvas, painting can become prayer. A space where hope and intention materialize. A welcome mat for mystery.

A skilled painter and teacher, Jennifer Berkenbosch will guide you as you improve upon your own work and style.

This workshop is as much about doing as learning; as much for connection as craft. Bring your materials and prepare to paint as you give and receive feedback within a small and supportive artist community.  

Jennifer Berkenbosch completed her BFA with distinction at the University of Alberta in 2004. She has exhibited her work since then in Edmonton at Bleeding Heart Art Space in 2017, at The Front Gallery with solo shows in 2005, 2007, and 2010, at the Art Gallery of Alberta in 2008, in a public project called Radiant on 118th Avenue funded by the Cultural Capital of Canada in 2008, and the Ernest Rubenstein Gallery in New York, New York in 2005.
She and her husband, James Vriend, own and operate Sundog Organic Farm, Northeast of Edmonton. Together they have three children.

View Jennifer's work at

Open Retreat

Make time for yourself.

You deserve some time to work on your art, and your soul.

With our discounted retreat option, craft your ideal retreat weekend. You get 8 extra hours to do whatever you like while others are taking guided workshops. You'll still enjoy all of the meals, accommodations, community time and sacred space gatherings.  

FCJ Christian Life Centre

219 19 Ave SW
Calgary, AB T2S 0C8

Situated on the banks of the Elbow River, the FCJ Christian Life Centre is only 10 blocks from downtown Calgary.

Access to bike paths and walk paths which link parks throughout the City are adjacent to the Centre, across the walking bridge which still bears the rail tracks of the Canadian Pacific Railway. Talisman Sports Centre, which offers swimming and other recreational facilities, is located nearby in Lindsay Park.


FCJ Christian Life Centre takes hospitality to heart, providing all meals, modern meeting rooms and clean, comfortable sleeping accommodations throughout the weekend. Bedding is also provided. 

Each attendee shares a room with one other attendee, with an optional privacy wall between, effectively creating two private rooms. Each shared room has access to their own washroom. 


Getting Here

By Car

FCJ Centre is easy to find and close to vibrant Calgary areas like the Beltline, 17th Ave and 4th Street. Click the map above to search for driving directions from your location. 

By Plane

If you are flying into Calgary, The FCJ Centre is roughly a half-hour drive from the Calgary International Airport.

An Airport Shuttle is available for $15 one way and will take you to the Hotel Arts, which is just 7 blocks from the retreat centre. The walk from there is about 10 minutes, or a quick cab or UBER will get you the rest of the way. 

You can also take Associated Cab from the Airport directly to the venue.


While check-in and check out times are firm, some elements in between may flex.


May 3

6 PM - Check-In

7 PM - Welcome Reception

8 PM - Introductory Workshop Session

9 PM - Fireside 'ArtLuck' (optional)


May 4

8 AM - Breakfast

9 AM - Workshop Session

12 PM - Lunch

1 PM - Creative/Free Time

3 PM - Group Activity (Optional)

5:30 PM - Supper

8 PM - Evening Worship

9 PM - Fireside 'ArtLuck' (Optional)


May 5


8 AM - Breakfast

9 AM - Workshop Session

12 PM - Lunch

1 PM - Creative Time

2 PM - Final Workshop Session

4 PM - Free Time

5:30 PM - Supper

8 PM - Evening Worship

9 PM - Fireside 'ArtLuck' (Optional)


May 6

8 AM - Breakfast

9 AM - Closing Celebration, Sharing and Reflection

11 AM - Check Out

12 PM - Lunch

1 PM - Fond Farewells!

All-in pricing of $650 Canadian covers your long weekend of instruction, accommodations and food.

Or take our Retreat Option, without a guided workshop, for $525.

Click the button to choose your track and register today.

Some Common Questions

Can I pay in instalments?

No. To keep things simple, payment must be made in full when you register. If you have any troubles paying online, contact us at

Can I get a discount for my group?

No. We've worked our numbers hard to keep this as affordable for you as we can, and are unable to offer discounts below our early bird rates.

Are Scholarships Available?

Hopefully. We are working to secure a small number of scholarships and will post about them as soon as they are confirmed. These will cover half of your registration fee and be awarded by a jury process for all applications. We recommend you do not wait for a scholarship to register unless you cannot attend any other way. It's best to register early and hold your spot, then we will apply your scholarship later by refunding half of your fee, should you receive one.

Can I get a refund if I cannot make it?

Yes and no. Within the first 48 hours of your registration, you can get a full refund, minus any service fees charged by our online registration provider, Picatic (we'll show you clearly what those are if you require this refund). After 48 hours, there is a non-refundable $100 portion, and the rest is fully refundable until April 15. After April 15, there are no refunds (excepting the 48 hour policy above), but registrations are transferrable, so long as space is available in the desired track.

What will the 'faith' component of the weekend look like?

One goal of this weekend is to help artists grow spiritually, and we are rooted in the Christian faith tradition. Our hosts are Jesuit nuns, our retreat producers are Anglicans and our instructors come from various Evangelical traditions. In other words, this is an ecumenical event with wide-open doors. To respect a broad spectrum of traditions, the weekend will be light on doctrine/theology and heavy on offering spaces to seek out and connect with God in a way that is meaningful for you. All spiritual experiences during the weekend are optional, so you can feel free to participate or sit out for those portions of the weekend. Or a little of both. Artists of any belief, or no belief, are welcome to attend.   


Contact Us

If you have a question we haven't answered here, please reach out. You can email Heather, our retreat coordinator, at or use the form below.


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